In a move that will surprise few in the cruise industry. German niche travel company, Peter Deilmann has finally been forced to end ocean cruise operations. The upshot is that the line’s sole vessel- the exquisite, 22,000 ton Deutschland- is now up for sale.
Two different buyers are said to be in the frame in relation to taking the ship on, but it is quite a conundrum to see where she might best fit. Deutschland was created as a labour of love by the late Peter Deilmann himself; her design and execution was a conscious attempt to recreate the late 19th/early 20th century opulence of such fabled Atlantic ‘fliers’ as the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse and Kronprinz Wilhelem.
Herr Deilmann certainly succeeded in that respect. The Deutschland is a riot of Victorian era opulence, with huge chandeliers and ornate statuary, framed by gilded balustrades and deep, rich carpeting sprinkled with Louis XVI furnishings. The ship is like a little Faberge Egg wrapped in a trim, snow white hull. A jaw dropping little jewel box of exquisite proportions.
Alas, that may be the biggest problem now…
With such a purpose designed interior theme, Deutschland might well be way too ‘over the top’ for traditional operators of small ships such as Louis. Her interiors could, in theory, be gutted and rebuilt, but that would constitute a hideously expensive, time consuming act of pure cultural vandalism. Who would want to attract that kind of negative PR?
And the cabins, while sumptuous, are small, Only one owner’s suite comes with it’s own private terrace, though some Juliet balconies were grafted onto the ship during a refit a year or so ago. With a passenger capacity of around 550, Deutschland is a high maintenance lady.
It is conceivable that another German company- perhaps Phoenix Seereisen or even Hapag Lloyd Cruises– might take her on. It seems unlikely that any British company would be in a position- or even be prepared- to take on such a on obvious piece of retrospective Teutonic sentiment.
In any event, it is to be hoped that this still relatively young ship- Deutschland was built only in 1996- finds gainful employment with an operator that cherishes her quite unique, wonderfully quirky traits. I have seldom dined as well anywhere as I did during a four day jaunt aboard the Deutschland in 2008. The ship boasts no less than four sumptuous dining rooms. And, in connection with her, it really is safe to say that she is totally unique in the cruise market.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. As ever, stay tuned.